Ever since the Chicago Blackhawks turned from a succesfull franchise with close to 30 years of playoff-hockey in succesion into a team playing for high draft picks instead of hardware in the middle of the 90s the Chicago Wolves became extremly popular in the windy city. Attendance-wise the Chicago Wolves were ahead of the competition in the International Hockey League, and with championship-teams in 1998 and 2000 there is also a lot to celebrate for the regular visitors. Unfortunatly the rest of the teams in the International Hockey League fared a lot less succesfull at the box-office and the league folded after the 2000/2001-campaign. Six teams joined the American Hockey League in something that was sold as a merger of both leagues, the Wolves qualified for the AHL and will resume their business in that league starting in 2001/2002.
The Allstate Arena, home of the Wolves, has a seating capacity of approximatly 16.000. On any give game-night about 10.000 people show up to the games of the slighty outdated venue. Many families are in attendance and give the crowd quiet a different look than at most (pretty expensive) NHL-arenas around the country. The team has done a good marketing job (compared to the Blackhawks who still have not found out that televising home-games might help attendance in the long-run) and tries to put on a good show each night, the player introduction is spectacular with fireworks and a lenghty light-show.
The level of play in the IHL or now AHL might not be up to the NHL (maybe compareable to the german DEL) but the games have a tendency to be a lot more offensive with more goals, more shots on net and more back-to-back action than you will get in a typical New Jersey Devils vs Dallas Stars NHL-game. On the average close to 7 goals are scored per game which is 1.5 more than in the big league (and 5 more than when the Devils play the Stars) where 10-15% of the games result in shutouts for goalies these days.
If you´re around Chicago on vacation, have a car, don´t want to spend a lot of money and are in the mood for a good hockey-evening there is nothing better than a game of the Wolves at the Rosemont Horizon. I personally would still prefer the Hawks at the United Center with the NHL on the ice, but 15 to 20 dollars get you a seat right close to the ice here while you are in the way of planes going down at O´Hare for that kind of money with the Blackhawks. Basically a ticket here costs you as much as parking at the United Center where tickets run at 45 dollars on the average.
The district "Rosemont" is a couple of steps away from the usual footprints a tourist might leave in the windy city and about 20 miles from the inner city and Lake Michigan. I can´t really recall any public transportation in that area, there probably is some but I don´t know about it. If you´re running by car try to consider that 20 miles can take quiet a while in Chicago, especially if you´re trying to get through during rush-hour.
The only slight disadvantage the arena has is that the elevation of the rows is not really very steep. This might turn into a problem if you got some big people sitting in front of you and is not really great but I guess that people didn´t grow as big as today when the arena was built. Thanks to the low prices many families come out to games so that there is always a good chance of sitting behind a youngster, it only gets tough if he´s sitting behind you....
A sellout is not really common so I wouldn´t worry too much about tickets. If you´re a fan of the better-safe-than-sorry strategy Ticketmaster also sells tickets of the Wolves throughout the Chicago area (remember that I bought my tickets at a supermarket in Wheeling).
Directions to the arena:
Links to the team:
The Chicago Wolves: www.chicagowolves.com
The Arena: www.allstatearena.com